Are you looking for the Best Afternoon Tea in Boston? The tea scene here is heating up as hotels are taking advantage of the fact that this city has been associated with tea since that infamous tea party unfolded in Boston Harbor in 1773.

My position as Tea Master for the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum brings me to town often and I use every spare moment to indulge my appetite for all the city has to offer on a tea theme. I’ve had dozens of scones, countless cucumber sandwiches, and more sweet morsels than my doctor should know about.  I know what you’re thinking – you want my job!

Here are a few of my favorite tea sanctuaries for enjoying a contemporary Boston Tea Party.

A well-read tea at the Boston Library

The Boston Public Library

Back Bay is home to one of my favorite Boston landmarks, The Boston Public Library. This impressive Charles McKim-designed building is home to the richly colored mural paintings of The Quest of the Holy Grail by Edwin Abbey, and the third floor John Singer Sargent gallery. Be sure you ascend the palatial grand staircase to see these great treasures. It will help burn off a few calories before teatime.

The first-floor Courtyard Restaurant is housed in a handsome barrel-vaulted room lit by brilliant palladium windows. Afternoon tea unfolds here Wednesday through Friday from 2:00 until 4:00 pm.

This literary tea is composed of just the right amount of favorite teatime sandwiches such as cucumber, salmon, and chicken; as well as fresh adaptations of tomato and crumbled bacon, and watercress with lemon aioli. While the tea list is not extensive, it does contain a balance of classic and flavored blends.

The French Room at The Taj Boston

Taj Boston

With its prominent view overlooking Boston Public Gardens, the grand hotel Taj provides the perfect sanctuary for enjoying an elegant afternoon tea in the heart of Old Boston. Tea is served Friday through Sunday in the French Room located on the second floor.

This comfortable gilded salon is lit with tall windows and crystal chandeliers. An afternoon here reminds me of a London lobby tea with beautiful porcelain teapots placed upon silver warmers, curved three-tiered silver servers, comfortable high-backed chairs, and live music provided by either a harpist or violinist.

Two meal choices await you – either The Duchess, for those who want just a few sweets and pastries accompanied by a pot of tea, or the grand Taj Royal. This is the “Full Monty” of afternoon teas. It comes complete with all the expected English tea sandwiches and a few bright surprises, such as a lobster profiterole (this is New England) and a wonderful prosciutto and melon canape. The scones are accompanied by blueberry curd and traditional Devonshire cream.

Be prepared to request a takeaway box because there are more fantastic desserts than a mere mortal can consume in one two-hour meal. I tried – three times – and failed.

Taste a bit of tea history

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

No tea lover should leave Boston without visiting the new Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, located in Boston Harbor next to the Children’s Museum. 

Visitors experience an hour-long multimedia experience that puts you into the most famous rebellion that helped spark the birth of America, including a tour through the cargo holds of two replica ships. End your tour in Abigail’s Tea Room where you can sample the five Chinese teas tossed overboard in 1773. 

You won’t find silver tiered servers and dainty finger sandwiches here, but you can enjoy a casual meal and fresh pastries accompanied by a pot of Abigail’s Blend, the signature tea I created for this unique museum.


Tea Maestro Bruce Richardson is author of several tea books, including The Great Tea Rooms of Britainand The Great Tea Rooms of America. He was appointed Tea Master for the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum in 2011.

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